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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Football scandals prompt brand concerns
Umbro football boot
Umbro says it is 'inherently part of the game'
Umbro has become the first official Football Association (FA) sponsor to speak out over the recent scandals that have rocked the game.

The sportswear firm insists that its commitment to the FA and football sponsorship remains solid.

But at the same time it is concerned that its brand could be damaged by recent events, which have seen top players linked to rape allegations and a drug test scandal.

"It is not good news for Umbro as a football brand, if the image of football is tarnished in any way," an Umbro spokesman told BBC News Online.

Not concerned

Umbro is one of five sponsorship "partners" signed up by the FA to boost income ahead of the 2006 World Cup, which together are worth about 40m a year to the organisation.

Building society Nationwide and fast food chain McDonalds said they were not concerned about the potential impact on their brand image.

Carlsberg and Pepsi were not available for comment.

But Umbro, which was the first of the five to sign up to the FA in a deal worth 40m over eight years, said it was worried about the sport's image.

Wholesome image

Umbro is more closely-linked to football than the other sponsors because of the nature of its business, a spokesman said.

Millions of people throughout the UK enjoy a hugely positive experience of football every single week - and we are delighted to be associated with that
Nationwide

And - although it had no plans to pull out of its deal with the FA or scale back its investment in the sport's grass roots - it was concerned about recent events, "as a football brand, inherently part of the game".

The way footballers behaved was important for the image of the sport, he added, and sponsors could use their influence to promote a more wholesome image.

Umbro made sure it only worked with players who had "the right kind of lifestyle off the pitch", such as Michael Owen and Alan Shearer, he said.

'Regrettable'

But Nationwide - which has sponsored the FA for the past five years - said it was important to put recent events in context.

"Millions of people throughout the UK enjoy a hugely positive experience of football every single week - and we are delighted to be associated with that," a spokesman told BBC News Online.

Nationwide was in a "mature long-term partnership with the FA," which it had no intention of ending, he said.

A McDonalds spokesman said that although recent events had been "regrettable" it did not expect its corporate image to suffer.

"Because we are so heavily-focused on the grass roots side, I don't think it will have a detrimental effect," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Umbro sale on the cards
07 Oct 03  |  Business
England get sponsorship boost
17 Mar 03  |  Internationals
FA agrees deal with players
15 Oct 02  |  Football


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